- 13 Is Unlucky: There's 13 of them against hundreds of Japanese soldiers. And they're all dead by the end of the film.
- Hold the Line: Their task is to keep the Japanese from crossing a ravine until the U.S. army can regroup.
- Kill 'Em All: All but Dane are dead by the end of the film, and judging by his surroundings he'll be soon to join them.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: They're American soldiers from all walks of life who are separated from their various commands and cobbled together as a rear guard to Hold the Line against the Japanese Army.
Captain Henry Lassiter, 26th Cavalry
Played By: Lee Bowman
A West Point grad who is put in charge of the rearguard.
Sergeant Bill Dane, 31st Infantry
Played By: Robert Taylor
A sergeant who is placed as second-in-command under Lassiter.
- Dark and Troubled Past: His past with Danny Burns, who escaped while under his guard leading to Dane's disgrace.
- Perma-Stubble: Has a perpetually unshaven look about him, which doesn't change even though weeks go by.
- Sergeant Rock: He's tough as nails and serves as leader for most of the film.
- Uncertain Doom: He's last seen firing away at Japanese soldiers while surrounded on all sides.
- You Are in Command Now: Twice over; he's put in command after Lassiter is killed, and Lt. Bentley defers to him because his piloting skills aren't what's needed.
Corporal Jake Feingold, 4th Chemical Company, Chemical Corps
Played By: Thomas Mitchell
Dane's closest friend and companion.
- The Lancer: To Dane as his best friend.
- Multiple Gunshot Death: Riddled with bullets from a Japanese machine gunner.
- Sacrificial Lion: The first to be killed in the final battle.
- Time-Delayed Death: Gets mowed down by Japanese machine guns, but doesn't die until the battle has started to die down and he staggers into view only to drop dead.
Corporal Barney Todd, Signalman attached to the 26th Cavalry
Played By: Lloyd Nolan
A shifty soldier who appears to be a signalman.
- Actually, I Am Him: Confesses to being Danny Burns while dying from his wounds.
- Combat Pragmatist: None of the soldiers fight fair, but Todd takes it up a notch by using a dead Japanese soldier as a dummy, putting his helmet on the man's head and having a machine gunner focus attention on the helmet while Todd sneaks around and blows him up with a grenade.
- Have We Met?: Dane has a sneaking suspicion that Todd is a man named Danny Burns who committed a murder at a barracks where Dane was stationed and escaped while under Dane's watch. These suspicions intensify when Dane sees Todd throw grenades left-handed and recalls that Burns threw left-handed.
- Jerkass: He's an unpleasant bully who clashes with everyone else.
Seaman Leonard Purckett, Musician Second Class
Played By: Robert Walker
A young, bright-faced seaman.
Lieutenant Steve Bentley, United States Army Air Corps
Played By: George Murphy
An army pilot with a downed plane he's trying to repair.
- Crippling Overspecialization: After Lassiter's death, Bentley, as a Lieutenant, is the highest ranking officer but defers to Dane because he's not trained to lead.
- Heroic Suicide: Mortally wounded shortly after fixing the plane, Bentley loads the plane up with dynamite and flies it into the bridge to stall the Japanese one more time.
Private Wesley Epps, 3rd Engineer Battalion, Corps of Engineers
Played By: Kenneth Spencer
A black demolitions expert.